Trustworthy. Reliable. Efficient.
These are probably some of the words that come to mind when you think of an executive assistant. While people believe that most of the job done by an executive virtual assistant is taking down notes and answering emails, they do so much more. They take care of all the backend work so that executives can focus on primary tasks and running their business.
Therefore, now more than ever, an executive assistant is more valuable than ever for businesses to grow and run successfully.
Why Are Executive Assistants Important?
Some people might think that there is no longer a need for executive assistants with the plethora of apps and digital tools available in the market. But the amount of time, money, and energy needed to operate the multitude of these organizational tools will leave you feeling drained, with no time to focus on your primary tasks.
That is where a self-sufficient, organized remote executive assistant becomes an asset to your team. Apart from their excellent organizational and administrative skills, they also act as strategic counsel and critical consultants for your business.
They handle many tasks like reception, event planning, project management, and internal and external communication with various teams. These are qualities that cannot be replaced by a machine anytime soon.
Additionally, with the influx of companies switching to remote working models, and the number of small businesses founded in recent years, a remote assistant is just the fitting addition to your company.
Top 10 Skills for Executive Assistants in 2022
Whether you're on your path to becoming a remote executive assistant or a business owner looking to hire one, here are ten skills that any great executive assistant should have.
Organizing tasks is a top skill for a good executive assistant. It is a fast-paced job that requires juggling many different tasks and responsibilities simultaneously. An excellent executive assistant needs to stay on top of these tasks to ensure projects are running smoothly and no critical deadlines are missed.
Executive assistants should have the knack to develop their organizational systems to keep track of tasks.
Essentially, an executive assistant represents and acts as a spokesperson for their executive. They are the ''gatekeepers.'' All communications to and from their boss often happen through them.
Therefore, professional communication skills, excellent grammar, and phone and email etiquette are a must if you want to succeed as an executive assistant. Additionally, you must have some business and persuasive skills and need to communicate strategically on behalf of your boss.
An executive assistant must also communicate their thoughts and ideas clearly. Often, they act as a confidant to their executive and must advise them on when good or bad decisions are being made. What separates a good EA from a great one is their ability to have individual thoughts and opinions and be more than just a yes-person.
A good executive assistant should be able to make the impossible possible.
They need to have a knack for building relationships, improving their networking skills, and being able to think on their feet to deliver results when it's needed the most.
For example, people in business have a lot of important meetings and travel as a part of their day-to-day job. Often these meetings happen in restaurants, and it can sometimes be hard to get a good reservation. That is where a good executive assistant should cash in on the relationship they've built with restaurateurs over time and pull some strings to get the reservation.
Good negotiating skills are hard to come by. Yet, it's something that should come naturally to an executive assistant.
While we did mention that no amount of apps or tools can do the job of an executive assistant, we also can't deny that technology is an intricate part of the daily job of an EA. Therefore, they should be fluent with certain digital tools and professional computing tools like G-Suite, Microsoft Office, Slack, Hootsuite, Salesforce, Evernote, and Zuora, to name a few.
With remote work becoming the new normal, an executive assistant's role is to set up virtual meetings and webinars on their executive's behalf, so they should be comfortable setting up these meetings and troubleshooting any difficulties that may arise.
Senior executives deal with a lot of sensitive, confidential information daily. These can be news about acquisitions, finance reports, or even Human Resource matters.
Naturally, this means that their executive assistants are also aware of this information.
However, for any executive to be fully transparent with their executive assistants, they need to trust them and know that this information is safe. Trust is the foundation of the relationship between an EA and their boss.
While this goes for any profession, it's imperative that executive assistants do not reveal company secrets and stay out of corporate gossip and rumors.
As we mentioned before, executive assistants have to handle a myriad of tasks daily. Sometimes, unexpected jobs come up, and they need to ensure that everything is taken care of.
Therefore, a good remote executive assistant needs to handle multiple projects without letting the pressure get them. For example, while making hotel reservations and other bookings, they can utilize the waiting time to respond to calls and other messages.
Prioritizing is also an important quality to have for executive assistants. They need to understand which tasks require immediate attention and attend to those first.
There is no time for anyone to spoon-feed an executive assistant when working for a high-level executive. Instead, they need to be proactive and show initiative to stand out at the job.
A good EA should learn about the industry they are in and educate themselves on the ins and outs of the company to provide their boss with strategic advice.
As we said before, a good assistant is more than just a yes-person. They should provide their employer with helpful opinions and a fresh perspective.
There are no two ways about it - being an executive assistant is a very demanding and high-pressure job. But, most of the time, executives pass their stress on to their assistants.
One always needs to remain calm to ground the other person among two people. For example, if an executive is under stress, their assistant needs to step up, reassure their boss and take the reins if needed.
The ability to stay calm under pressure is one of the top skills people look for while hiring executive assistants.
Executive assistants interact with multiple people every day. And no two people are the same. In addition, as spokesperson for their executive, they have to communicate with top-level management and ground-level employees.
An executive assistant must read people well, pick up emotional cues and diffuse difficult situations before they arise.
More often than not, executive assistants need to be self-sufficient and think quickly on their feet. They can't always keep running to their boss to approve decisions, especially if they are caught up with other work.
Executive assistants need to be intuitive and confident to make decisions without their boss around.
While you can't always be sure if the decisions are correct, acting on the issues is better than waiting for them to worsen. So, quick thinking and decisiveness must come naturally to remote executive assistants.
A CEO's Secret Weapon
While some of these skills are instincts, and some can be developed over time, the most important thing an executive can bring to the table is an enthusiastic attitude and the willingness to learn and improve on the job. A good executive assistant is not one who does not make mistakes, but one who learns from their mistakes, supports their executive and is passionate and willing to give their all towards the company's growth.
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